Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stephane Ortelli Walks Away From Insane Crash Le Mans 2008

Dontcha just hate it when the Euro Circuit Racer does this?

Endless Oil Demand

New York Times April 29th 2008

"As oil prices soared to record levels in recent years, basic economics suggested that consumption would fall and supplies would rise as producers drilled for more oil.

But as prices flirt with $120 a barrel, many energy experts are becoming worried that neither seems to be happening. Higher prices have done little to suppress global demand or attract new production, and the resulting mismatch has sent oil prices ever higher.That has translated into more pain at the pump, with gasoline setting a fresh record of $3.60 a gallon nationwide on Monday.

Experts expect prices above $4 a gallon this summer, and one analyst recently predicted that gasoline could reach $7 in the next four years."



I dont think I will ever get tired of the Angry Nintendo Nerd and his rants. He whines for a while, but the bit at the end is the pure golden vitriol of an 8 year old channeled through a 30 year old man.

I still play a lot of these older NES games as well, and I have to say TMNT is one that nearly drove me insane as a kid, although I remember beating it. Shredder was nearly impossible. But if the games were designed for kids, why were they so devilish and horrible? I think many, many early videogame developers actually hated children. The people who designed games like TMNT, Ghosts n Goblins, and Rush n Attack for the NES should have a class action lawsuit filed against them by all the emotionally scarred kids whose fragile psyches were shattered in the 1980s.

All I know is James and me could definitely use some counseling paid for by Nintendo's surging share price, and probably a few more Rolling Rocks wouldnt hurt either.

Check out more Angry Nintendo Nerd videos on youtube.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Leeroy Jenkins

I dont play World of Warcraft but I have a lot of friends who do, so this is for them. The people in this video spend hours getting their guild members together for some huge raid, then one guy "Leeroy Jenkins" goes off to microwave some chicken during the final spell buffs. When he gets back, he thinks everyone is waiting for him to start the raid, while they are actually putting on the final and most important buffs. He charges in with a battlecry that will forever be known for all of history: "LEEEEEEEEROY JENKIIIIIINS!!!!"

This is such a popular youtube clip (5.5M views +) that there have been several parodies, knock offs, tributes and remixes. Leeroy has made an appearance as a trivia question on the TV game show Jeopardy, and Blizzard is making a Leeroy Jenkins figurine for the WoW Miniature Tabletop Game coming out later in 2008. They might not have succeeded in the raid, but as Leeroy says, "Hey - at least I have chicken."

Leeroy Jenkins Super-Techno Euro-Trance Ultra-Turbo Future-Mix

Leeroy Jenkins on Jeopardy

Leeroy Jenkins 300 Parody

Leeroy Jenkins Halo 3 Parody

Leeroy Jenkins Ninja Loot in World of Offline Gaming

Leeroy Jenkins Wiki

Saturday, April 26, 2008

U.S. Spies Use Videogames for Training

4.24.08 by Michael Peck

"In the wake of the intelligence bungles that propelled the United States into the Iraq war, it's no secret that the nation's spies have been working to improve the quality of their analysis. Now the top U.S. military intelligence agency has come up with a new tool for teaching recruits critical thinking skills: videogames.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has just taken delivery of three PC-based games, developed by simulation studio Visual Purple under a $2.6 million contract between the DIA and defense contractor Concurrent Technologies. The goal is to quickly train the next generation of spies to analyze complex issues like Islamic fundamentalism.

Given a choice between a droning classroom lecture or a videogame, the best method for teaching Generation Y was obvious. "It is clear that our new workforce is very comfortable with this approach," says Bruce Bennett, chief of the analysis-training branch at the DIA's Joint Military Intelligence Training Center."

Read The Full Story

The World's Hardest (Flash) Game

The World's Hardest (Flash) Game

I got to about the 12th level before sanity crept in. Its like a budget N+.

The game keeps taunting you and insulting your mother. I find it hilarious.

Donkey Kong (Colecovision) (How To Beat Home Video Games 3)

"Colecovision: Another high resolution game machine, with a built-in expansion port to allow for additions to the system like a computer keyboard."

Apparently in the early 1980s 256x192 was considered "high resolution." This clip is worth it simply for the sweet analog synthesizer FX at the beginning.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grand Theft Auto For the NES

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

If you remember what NES commercials were like in the 1980s, I think you will find this to be parody to be right on the money. This was the game I wanted when I was 8!!!

Japanese Laser Deathmatch Mechs

Freaking sweet. These guys assemble custom mechs and outfit them with lasers to play in a multiplayer remote control tabletop version of Mech Assault called Blaser. From what I can tell, melee attacks are prohibited, the rounds last 5 minutes, there is a point scoring system, and at the end of several rounds the team with the most points wins. Sound familiar? LINK

50 Celebrity Mii's

The first few are OK, then they start getting really good, and then there are some that are just uncanny! It really amazing the depth these kids got out of the Mii creator. I would crap my pants if I saw MJ sneak up behind me in Mario Kart Online!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mass Effect, I Tried To Love You

I had 5 sessions with Mass Effect, got maybe 20% through the game, and I feel I gave it a somewhat decent if not my best effort, but in the end, despite the technical issues, it was the slow game pacing, mediocre gunplay, and horrific vehicle controls that prevented the game from getting its hooks into me.

I also have a backed up pile that includes Devil May Cry 4, Condemned 2, Okami Wii, Ratchet & Clank, Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, all sitting there begging me to play them right now, as well as my Burnout 3, Virtua Tennis 3, Civ4, and various XBLA, NES, and SNES addictions to tend to, so it not that easy to squeeze in a 50 hour RPG. Mass Effect has beautiful graphics, cool characters, and the story seemed interesting. But lately, my main requirement for a game is that it has an immediately addictive gameplay mechanic, and in Mass Effect I just could not find it.

Having played through Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2, and Bioware's epic masterpiece Jade Empire, I can honestly say this game, while not bad, certainly was disppointing given my previous 3 engagements with the developer. The game starts out incredibly slowly. Your character moves incredibly slowly. The protracted dialogue sequences, often well voiced, well written, and well animated, all move incredibly slowly. You get my drift. This isnt a fast game, and in fact its turtle like progression is one of my main complaints. Darth Mikal, who has beaten this game, says its not really that big a game, but because it moves so slowly, it takes a really long time to play.

I agree with Darth on a number of points, another being that Mass Effect is not a true exploration game. Endless Ocean is an exploration game. Mass Effect is actually very linear within the confines of its branching storypaths. Forget actually exploring any planet that you land on. There is nothing to explore, just go along the path they have pre-designated for you. If you attempt to explore, you will likely enter one of the games massive glitches, or possibly just crash the 360.

The technical issues, both in the graphics engine and the physics and game world, were particularly troubling. Let me describe the unfortunate sequence of events which caused me to actually give up on the game. After aquiring my ship, I went to Feros. Apparently they were being attacked by aliens, although this was the last possible thing I expected. You would think that the priority would be for me to clear the aliens from the mining colony, but the colonists had different plans. They wanted me to fix some leaky pipes. Thats right, I got on my spaceship, flew all the way to another galaxy; the hero is here to save to planet and they want me to be a fucking janitor. Wow. OK fine, I guess its all part of the tradition of RPGs: before you save the world, you must rescue this kitten first. Before you save the Universe, you have to fix a septic system.

So I did their dirty work, and was on my way. Now, I had to get into my vehcile, called the Mako, and clear out the rest of the planet. Let me tell you about the Mako. It is, in the words of Ikaruga addict md galaxy, "the worst vehicle in the history of videogames." Thats not a small statement. The Mako makes the hovercraft from Army of Two, or the armored transport from Gears or War, look like a race modified Bugati. Im not sure who designed the physics or controls for it, but I sencerely hope for humanity's sake that person does not reproduce. It cant drive straight, and it cant really turn well either. Get stuck against a wall, try to back up, and prepared to be amazed as the tires spin forwards. To call it similar to the patrol vehicle from the 1982 classic Moon Patrol is to insult the developers at Williams Electronics. You have more control over your vehicle in that 26 year old game than you do in the Mako.

Im a videogame vehicle junkie. The first thing I do in any Halo match is go jump in the Ghost, Warthog or Mongoose and start running people over. Moon Patrol is one of my favorite arcade games of all time. So to say that the Mako was a disappointment to me is like saying Jessica Alba is "kind of cute," or Neifi Perez "isnt a great hitter." Its quite an understatement.

So I got out and walked. Yes, just like I would do if my real car was broken and undrivable, I got out of the Mako and proceeded to walk the rest of the way to my mission destination. And I walked. It was a long way. Finally, after killing everything in sight, which happened quite slowly due to the poor accuracy of my weapons, and the fact that I was playing on Veteren (for which there is oddly no achievement), I entered a large indoor area. At the end of a small hallway, my party stumbled upon a large defensive robot. I bolted from the room and my party members, with all their tri-core xenon powered AI, stood there and got blasted in the face at point blank range and died. I was able to shoot the robot in the knee while it shot the top of the doorway in front of me, for about a minute straight, before it collapsed. Quite an exciting fight. Thats another drawback to Mass Effect: the shooting sucks. It gets better, but not by a huge margin. And there is a single, lame melee animation. If there is anything I've gotten from Army of Two or Virtua Tennis, its that multiple animations for the same or similar player actions add an incredible amount of depth and realism to a game.

Finally, I killed the stupid robot. There was a chest in the back of the room. As I opened the chest to find absolutely no quest items or other valuables which a huge robot might be protecting, I turned around and found myself unable to move. My party members had gotten up off the floor and trapped me in between the robot corpse, and the chest. Apparently, this type of environmental object glitch is quite common.

At this point, after talking to several people about my concerns with the game, and realizing none of these problems were going to go away later on, I decided to just turn it off for good. I dont really have any regrets either, even though everyone I know who played through the game liked it. There was a lot to like about Mass Effect, but the slow gameplay, endless technical issues, choppy framerate, bugs with the AI and the environment, and the totally undrivable Mako, were enough for me to put it on ebay and never look back.


As a bonus for those of you have that have been reading my blog, Ive decided to link to a couple of versions of Moon Patrol in honor of the Mako. The first is a budget flash version that should be playable on any computer, while the second is a full remake of the game for the PC by a Dutch guy called Shinobi. This remake is excellent and would easily command 400 Microsoft points on XBLA but its available for free on Shinobi's website. It works with any USB controller or the 360 controller if you have the Windows Wireless Receiver. Check it out!

Moon Patrol Flash Version

Moon Patrol Full Remake by Shinobi

Monday, April 21, 2008

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave?

Before you read the following NYT editorial, I just want to clear something up. I am a patriot. I love this country and thats why its killing me that we are acting so irresponsibly and unethically. Rather than look the other way and pretend everything is OK like millions of Americans do, I prefer to face the music and talk about these problems. Right now, I want to talk briefly about torture and why it has no place in America. First and foremost, it doesnt work. It has been scientifically proven and verified by military and police professionals all over the world that torturing people to extract information produces only one thing consistently: bad information. Thats the last thing our resource strapped intelligence services need right now.

Secondly, its unethical by the standard of every civilized nation in the Western world. I believe that America's root problems are not economic or military - we are in an moral crisis that has been building for the past 50 years and has reached fever pitch. If we want to regain our compsure, our moral compass, and the respect of the rest of the world, we must cease tortuing POWs immediately. To do otherwise is to venture down a very dark, very long road from which there may be no return.

The New York Times Editorial April 21st 2008

"Ever since Americans learned that American soldiers and intelligence agents were torturing prisoners, there has been a disturbing question: How high up did the decision go to ignore United States law, international treaties, the Geneva Conventions and basic morality?

The answer, we have learned recently, is that — with President Bush’s clear knowledge and support — some of the very highest officials in the land not only approved the abuse of prisoners, but participated in the detailed planning of harsh interrogations and helped to create a legal structure to shield from justice those who followed the orders.

We have long known that the Justice Department tortured the law to give its Orwellian blessing to torturing people, and that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved a list of ways to abuse prisoners. But recent accounts by ABC News and The Associated Press said that all of the president’s top national security advisers at the time participated in creating the interrogation policy: Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Rumsfeld; Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser; Colin Powell, the secretary of state; John Ashcroft, the attorney general; and George Tenet, the director of central intelligence.

These officials did not have the time or the foresight to plan for the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq or the tenacity to complete the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But they managed to squeeze in dozens of meetings in the White House Situation Room to organize and give legal cover to prisoner abuse, including brutal methods that civilized nations consider to be torture.

Mr. Bush told ABC News this month that he knew of these meetings and approved of the result.

Those who have followed the story of the administration’s policies on prisoners may not be shocked. We have read the memos from the Justice Department redefining torture, claiming that Mr. Bush did not have to follow the law, and offering a blueprint for avoiding criminal liability for abusing prisoners.

The amount of time and energy devoted to this furtive exercise at the very highest levels of the government reminded us how little Americans know, in fact, about the ways Mr. Bush and his team undermined, subverted and broke the law in the name of saving the American way of life.

We have questions to ask, in particular, about the involvement of Ms. Rice, who has managed to escape blame for the catastrophic decisions made while she was Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, and Mr. Powell, a career Army officer who should know that torture has little value as an interrogation method and puts captured Americans at much greater risk. Did they raise objections or warn of the disastrous effect on America’s standing in the world? Did anyone?

Mr. Bush has sidestepped or quashed every attempt to uncover the breadth and depth of his sordid actions. Congress is likely to endorse a cover-up of the extent of the illegal wiretapping he authorized after 9/11, and we are still waiting, with diminishing hopes, for a long-promised report on what the Bush team really knew before the Iraq invasion about those absent weapons of mass destruction — as opposed to what it proclaimed.

At this point it seems that getting answers will have to wait, at least, for a new Congress and a new president. Ideally, there would be both truth and accountability. At the very minimum the public needs the full truth.

Some will call this a backward-looking distraction, but only by fully understanding what Mr. Bush has done over eight years to distort the rule of law and violate civil liberties and human rights can Americans ever hope to repair the damage and ensure it does not happen again."

Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

The New York Times April 20th, 2008

"In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found."


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy 4/20!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Manny Being Manny

"It doesnt matter where I hit. I am Manny, so it doesnt matter."
-Manny Ramirez, on hitting 3rd or 4th

Last night Manny Ramirez hit two massive home runs off the Yankees Mike Mussina to give the Red Sox the lead for good. The Yanks tried to fight back but the hill was too tall to climb. Manny doesnt just hit well against the Yankees, he absolutely kills them. Since 2006, hes hitting .473 against the Yankees - going into last nights game - so, add a bit to that.

.473 isnt softball numbers, it freaking wiffleball numbers. And to think, the Yankees could have had Ramirez for nothing other than his salary. They didnt have to give up a single prospect, because after 2003 the Red Sox put him on waivers, all the Yankees had to do was pick up the contract. They didnt, the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 hole in the 2004 American League Championship Series to win 4-3, and they won the World Series, where Manny was the Most Valuable Player. Last year, 2007, the Red Sox won the World Series again, with Manny again being a major contributor. All this from a player who wanted out of Boston, while the owners wanted him out, with the general consent of a divided fanbase, some loved Ramirez, most hated him and blamed him for the Red Sox woes.

The phrase “out of left field” originated long before Manny Ramirez made it to the majors, yet it seems like it was coined with him in mind. Ramirez is the latest – and arguably the zaniest – quirky character to play for the Red Sox, a franchise that has employed the likes of Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Jackie Jensen, a talented outfielder whose fear of flying cut short his career, and high strung Jimmy Piersall, who in the bio pic “Fear Strikes Out” was portrayed as climbing the backstop during a nervous breakdown. Ramirez is also the most talented hitter to toil in Beantown since Ted Williams.

Among Ramirez’s more notable eccentricities is his penchant for disappearing behind the Green Monster at Fenway Park when the Sox bring in a reliever in mid-inning, possibly to relieve himself, possibly to smoke a huge spliff with the scoreboard guys. He named his two oldest sons Manny Jr. and reportedly has multiple Social Security numbers and more than one driver’s license. Early in his career, he would go through teammates’ lockers and take bats and clothes for good luck. He once told the Red Sox he was too sick to play in a key series against the Yankees and then was spotted having a post-game drink with Bronx Bombers’ infielder Enrique Wilson. At least in that incident he told the Red Sox he wasn’t showing up. Each spring, Ramirez’s reporting date is a mystery to the Boston brass. His teammates describe this kind of behavior as “Manny being Manny.”

Manny has handed the ball to fans in the stands after making a catch with 1 out, fallen flat on his face while the ball rolls past him, but his most famous incident of outfield incompetence came a few years ago when he made a nice running catch and threw the ball to the cutoff man - actually, it was the center fielder who was about 30 feet away from him - in the opposite direction of the infield.

Ramirez has asked the Red Sox to trade him to numerous teams, including Boston’s AAA team in Pawtucket, R.I. After the 2003 season, the Red Sox put him irrevocable waivers, meaning all a team had to was agree to pay his $20 million annual salary and they could have him, but there were no takers. They also tried unsuccessfully to deal him to Texas for Alex Rodriguez during that off-season. In 2005, he went public with demands to be shipped out of the Hub City. The Red Sox attempted to move him after the season but couldn’t find an acceptable deal.

Ramirez is a notriously poor and often indifferent outfielder, some might call him a "space cadet," who sometimes seems lost running the bases. So why would a major-league team put up with all the oddball antics, shoddy fielding and clueless base running? Well, because the guy can flat out destroy the baseball with a bat. Beginning in 1998, Ramirez drove in at least 100 runs a season for nine straight seasons. His career average is over .313, and he started the 2008 season as a 35-year-old with 490 career homers, so he has a good shot at finishing with at least 600 career long balls. His best season was with Cleveland in 1999 when he hit .333, belted 44 homers and plated 165 runners. He is a hammer lock for the Hall of Fame.

The Yankees made a few huge mistakes in the past 8 years that have led to a draught of championships. The speculative signings of Jeff Weaver, Jared Wright, Carl Pavano, and a host of other underperforming players have cost the Yankees countless millions, and several World Series victories. But its hard not to wonder how many championships the Yankees mights have won had they signed Manny instead of Jason Giambi or Gary Sheffield. It is an amazing thought that without Manny, the Red Sox probably never would have made it past the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, and if the Yankees had him, how many more champioships they could have won.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wii Now Shipping Without Built In Suck

The Nintendo Wii is now officially worth owning. Thats right kids, you heard it here first, Nintendo's little fun-bomb has now broken free of the downward sucking grip of a huge lack of quality titles. Im still not 100% sold on how many games implement the motion controls, and I really wish there was a gamecube controller option for Samus in Metroid Prime 3, but there are enough very strong titles out now that laying down $250 for one of these little boxes is a no brainer, especially if you like classic gaming, because the Virtual Console is freaking sweet. Ive owned one since July 07 because I received it as a gift but to be honest I hadnt played it much until Super Mario Galaxy came out. But check out the library of "A" titles out now:

Mario Kart
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Paper Mario RPG
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Geometry Wars Galaxies
Endless Ocean

I played Okami on the PS2 and its amazing, I cant wait to play it in 480P 16:9 with the Wiimote. Twilight Princess I played on the Gamecube, and I have to say if its not the best Zelda game I've played, its definitely my personal favorite and by far the most epic. And the rest of the games are all Wii exclusives, and you have to consider 2nd-gen Wii games like Starfox, Kid Icarus and the next Zelda, that Nintendo is currently developing.

The Virtual Console is also amazing, especially because you can download Turbo Graphix 16, Neo Geo, Famicom, and previously import only NES, SNES and N64 titles that are extremely rare and expensive on ebay. I own more NES systems than I care to count (7, maybe), 2 SNES, 2 Sega Genesis, and a GBA, so most of the good stuff is already in my collection, but there is something to be said for having all that content centrally located on a small system that wont lose your save if you accidently bump it or yank too hard on the controller.

The Wii really does look best on a 480P native cathode tube television of between 20" and 32" in size. I have a flat screen 27" CRT Samsung and Smash Bros and Mario galaxy look absolutely amazing, while virtual console games look better than ever in 480P. For those of you that have huge LCD or Plasma displays, it wont look as crisp or bright, but will still be plenty playable.

Im of the opinion that the Wiimote is cool for certain types of controls, like a baseball bat, golf club, sword, or paintbrush, and for these it truly is most interactive and superior control. But it requires expert programming to work properly. And unfortunately, even expert programming must work within the limitations of precision that the device presents. As a racing wheel, the IGN UK review of Mario Kart mentions the lack of 100% accurate control will likely dissuade most serious players from using it in ranked online racing, where the pros will all be using the Gamecube controller or Wii Classic Controller. My hope is that most if not all Wii games in the future will allow the use of the Classic Controller as an alternative for those of us who arent yet ready to make the complete transition. Whatever you do this Spring, check out the Wii.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Sickest Fold

About a week ago, halfway into my regular no limit $1-2 holdem game, I was sitting in my usual seat with my usual chipstack of about 3 buys ins, in this case its was $345 (we buy in for $100). The player to my immediate left, who was relatively new to the game, played in a loose agressive fashion and had been raising a lot of pots all night. I will refer to this player as the "Villian," not because he is evil but because it is a standard term in poker literature to refer to the opposing player. The Villian in this case had been running pretty well and had about $270 in front of him. Across a 9 handed table from us sat a tight, aggressive player who plays in World Poker Tour events in Foxwoods and Atlantic City. His nickname is "The Closer" for the way he closes out tournaments with a torrent of aggression. His stack was about $430-440.

The following hand came up. I was in the small blind, the Villian was in the Big Blind, and the action folded to the Closer who limped in for $2. The action folded around to me, and looking down and seeing a rather nice holding which I will not disclose yet, I decided to make my usual raise to $8. The Villian called from the big blind and the Closer called. The pot was $24.

The flop came down as you see in the picture above, all diamonds, Kd-5d-4d. First to act and liking how the board matched up with my hole cards, I decided to make a raise larger than the pot: $32. The Villian thought for a moment before announcing, "I raise," and he proceeded to put in the $32 and then $50 more. The pot had quickly grown to $138. The action was to The Closer, who had been carefully studying the developments.

The Closer double checked his hole cards, checked the board, asked for a rough count of the pot, and went into the tank. This was clearly not an easy decision for him. What could he possibly have, I wondered, that would cause so much consideration? The pot was quite small when I overbet it, and the guy right next to me came out and reraised my overbet! He stared at me, and then the Villian, as though he were trying to look into our souls.

Now we enter the mind of The Closer. Here was a rather unique situation. The Closer had flopped the second best possible hand given the board, a Queen high flush. But the action in front of him, which saw a mound of chips go into a small pot, clearly concerned him. Also, by the looks of the action, if he went all in, it was very likely he would have at least one and probably two callers. Calling would be dangerous for his hand, because if the next card was another Diamond, it was possible that one of us would make the nut flush, or the board could pair and someone with 3 of a kind could fill up. He knew we both had very strong hands. He put us both on a range of hands that included 3 of a kind, two pair, top pair with the nut flush draw, open ended straight flush draw, a smaller made flush than his, and the small chance of the nut flush. He did some quick math. He could beat all of those hands but one right now, but if all the chips go in, the situation isnt pretty. He had each of us covered in terms of chips, but together we had more than $500.

Observe the percentages in the image above. If he puts me on the AdKx and the Villian on a set of 5s, if all the chips go in he is a favorite against each of us but he is a 45% underdog against both of our hands combined. Even if no more diamonds come, the board can still pair and make the Villian a full house, so he would only win a small side pot with me. The chances that his Queen high flush would hold up against that range of hands were not fantastic. Also, he had only put $8 at this point into the pot, which was now $138. He could fold the second best hand and not gamble against strong drawing hands, and continue to play with the massive stack he had built up. He was already winning $300+ in the game, and if he continued to play, given the game conditions, it was almost certain he would continue to win.

The Closer finally made the correct decision: in a pot in which you have only invested $8, you dont go broke with the second nuts. In fact, you dont even gamble with them, even if most of the time, going all in will be a profitable play.

After about 6 or 7 minutes of thought, The Closer tapped his cards on the table and said, "no thanks, I dont want to gamble right now, I fold" and mucked his hand in the vicinity of Two Pair Tony to his left, who motioned as if he wanted to take a look. The Closer nodded. Tony nearly fell out of his chair. "Are you kidding me?!?" Tony exclaimed.

This however, was largely lost on me, as I had flopped the nuts, Ad-10d, and was busy raising another $160. The Villain put in his last $160 and was drawing dead with the Jd-8d, as the only card that could help him, the 6d (he needed runner-runner straight flush), had been folded.

I raked in the mound of chips as The Closer showed his fold to the table. "I guess it was a good laydown" he said with a wry smile. We were all in disbelief, and it is 100% certain nobody else at the table would have folded in that spot. Several people said it was a bad fold. In poker, there are some hands you cant get away from. Pocket Aces vs Pocket Kings. Set over Set. Nut Flush vs second Nut Flush. You just pay the guy off, shake your head, curse the dealer, and move on.

Not The Closer. Not that night.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Super Mario Brothers in 5 minutes

Gerry Phillips plays Super Mario Bros. theme on his hands!

This guy Gerry Phillips is a totally amazing manualist. That means he plays music on his hands. Basically, he farts out the tune with his sweaty, meaty palms. In this case, it happens to be a remix of the Super Mario Bros theme. If you are ever feeling down, I highly recommend watching this clip. I cannot watch it without cracking up. Also, try playing both this with the volume up and the clip above it muted at the same time.

Just look at the guy's face. He clearly derives some sort of sick pleasure from flipping people out on the internet by hand farting all their favorite tunes. Sweet Child O Mine becomes Sweet Handfart O Mine. The Final Countdown? The Final Fartdown. Check out some of his other vids, this is grade A musical hilarity.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This madness must cease

The following is an op ed by The New York Times' Bob Herbert from Saturday April 12th 2008.

I wonder what the answers would be if each American asked himself or herself the question: “How is the war in Iraq helping me?”

While the U.S. government continues to pour precious human treasure and vast financial resources into this ugly war without end, it is all but ignoring deeply entrenched problems that are weakening the country here at home.

On the same day that President Bush was announcing an indefinite suspension of troop withdrawals from Iraq, the New York Times columnist David Leonhardt was telling us a sad story about how the middle class has fared during the Bush years.

The economic boom so highly touted by the president and his supporters “was, for most Americans,” said Mr. Leonhardt, “nothing of the sort.” Despite the sustained expansion of the past few years, the middle class — for the first time on record — failed to grow with the economy.

And now, of course, we’re sinking into a nasty recession.

The U.S., once the greatest can-do country on the planet, now can’t seem to do anything right. The great middle class has maxed out its credit cards and drained dangerous amounts of equity from family homes. No one can seem to figure out how to generate the growth in good-paying jobs that is the only legitimate way of putting strapped families back on their feet.

The nation’s infrastructure is aging and in many places decrepit. Rebuilding it would be an important source of job creation, but nothing on the scale that is needed is in sight. To get a sense of how important an issue this is, consider New Orleans.

The historian Douglas Brinkley, who lives in New Orleans, has written: “What people didn’t yet fully comprehend was that the overall disaster, the sinking of New Orleans, was a man-made debacle, resulting from poorly designed levees and floodwalls.”

We could have saved the victims of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, but we didn’t. And now, more than 2 ½ years after the tragedy, we are still unable to lift the stricken city off its knees.

Other nations can provide health care for everyone. The United States cannot. In an era in which a college degree is becoming a prerequisite for a middle-class quality of life, we are having big trouble getting our kids through high school. And despite being the wealthiest of all nations, nearly 10 percent of Americans are resorting to food stamps to maintain an adequate diet, and 4 in every 10 American children are growing up in families that are poor or near-poor.

The U.S. seems almost paralyzed, mesmerized by Iraq and unable to generate the energy or the will to handle the myriad problems festering at home. The war will eventually cost a staggering $3 trillion or more, according to the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. When he was asked on “Democracy Now!” about who is profiting from the war, he said the two big gainers were the oil companies and the defense contractors.

This is the pathetic state of affairs in the U.S. as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Whatever happened to the dynamic country that flexed its muscles after World War II and gave us the G.I. Bill, the Marshall Plan, the United Nations (in a quest for peace, not war), the interstate highway system, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the finest higher education system the world has known, and a standard of living that was the envy of all?

America’s commanding general in Iraq, David Petraeus, and our ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, went up to Capitol Hill this week but were unable to give any real answers as to when the U.S. might be able to disengage, or when a corner might be turned, or when a faint, flickering hopeful light might be glimpsed at the end of the long, horrific Iraqi tunnel.

A country that used to act like Babe Ruth now swings like a minor-leaguer. The all-American can-do philosophy has been smothered by the hapless can’t-do performances of the people who have been in charge for the past several years. It’s both tragic and embarrassing.

The war in Iraq stands like a boulder in the road, blocking progress on so many other important issues that are crucial to our viability as a society. We’ve seen this before. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which included the war on poverty, was crippled by the war in Vietnam.

On the evening of April 4, 1967, one year to the day before he was assassinated, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went into Riverside Church in Manhattan and said of the war in Vietnam: “This madness must cease.”

Forty-one years later, we can still hear the echo of Dr. King’s call. The only sane response is: “Amen.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ikaruga is Here - Prepare to get Totally Pwned

"I will not die until I achieve something.
Even though the ideal is high, I never give in.
Therefore, I never die with regrets."

-Ikaruga Chapter 1 Prologue

Ikaruga pwns me like few games before ever have. As in Chronicles of Riddick, "I'll kill you with my teacup" pwnage. This is the rare shooter that makes beating something like R-Type, Triggerheart Excelica, Omega 5, 1942, Einhander, and Gradius 5, all in a row without dying, seem rather pedestrian by comparison. Ok so maybe Im exagerrating a wee bit, but you get the point. The game on its default setting is hardcore. On hard mode, its positively ridiculous.

The heart of the gameplay is the swappable polarity of your attack/defense mechanism. To properly clear the stages and get the highest score, you need to constantly switch between light and dark polarity chaining combos. Sometimes, you need to switch several times per second. requires intense concentration, total stage memorization, cat like reflexes, and incredible willpower to not flick the controller through the television screen while screaming "NOOOOOO!!!!" when you go dark when you should have stayed light. But the mechanic is ingenius and as you become used to it the game's brilliance shines through.

Is it the greatest shoot em up game ever made? Its hard to say. For a lot of people, the challenge is just way, way, WAY too hard. But for real dedicated shmup fans? This isnt just a classic. This is the creme de la creme. It certainly isnt a "fun" or relaxing game by normal standards, maybe after you have mastered it. Its pure intensity. This isnt a game thats meant to be played occasionally. If you want to beat this game on hard and get a huge score, clear out your gaming calender for the next week.

But is it a great game? Oh, most certainly. Great games make great gamers, and this is a game that has created legends. If you have the time to play it a lot, the patience, and the skill, the game is easily worth 800 points. The level designs and bosses are fantastic, the graphics are still quite good, and there is online coop, leaderboards, and downloadable replays. Not that many shooters are worth the time and dedication- Ikaruga is one of the rare few, and this XBLA port is the best version of the game to date.

And Yes, there is a rating above S+. Check out Erik's IGN video review.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Now it All Makes Sense

The creator of the original Pac-Man, Toru Iwatani claims his inspiration for the iconic game was none other than his love for snacking. The name "Pac-Man" derives from the Japanese phrase paku-paku-taberu, which means "to munch."
Newtonian physics dictates that where there is munching, there is crunching. If you click on the image above, you will see that the power pellets in the original Pac Man arcade cabinet were actually tiny little boxes of Crunch n Munch - you just have to look closely. Licensing issues with Con Agra foods prevented the boxes of delicious snack food from making it into the final release, but the initial Japanese version featured the product prominently. No one, unfortunately, considered the impact of all this junk food on little Pac Man's health.
Trapped inside the maze and unable to resist the temptations of toffee-caramel popcorn and peanut covered goodness, Pac Man and his equally rotund wife Pepper (what, you never saw the cartoon?) are destined to roam the halls of Pac-Town collecting munchies for all eternity. Unless, of course Pac Man gets diabetes from his constant 98.3% blood sugar level and has to undergo kidney replacement sugery. I've seen a lot of fruits, vegetables, bells, and keys in the Pac-Maze, but I never saw any Pac-Kidneys, so for Pac Man's sake here's hoping he goes vegan or moves to Memphis. Otherwise its gonna be an ugly scene with Pac Man performing surgery on Ms Pac Man using a key as a scalpal, harvesting her organs like some sort of demented character out of Bioshock. Focus-testing revelaed that such a horrific scene would likely scare off American arcade customers, so Iwatani made the decision to go with tiny circular power pellets, the game became a huge hit and synonymous with videogaming in general, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

LSD Testing (British Troops)

"The efficiency of the rocket launcher team was also very impaired."

Thanks Bender!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

.................. "OH CRAP!".............

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"There seems to be this weird idea that single-player games can get shorter. They can get more expensive and shorter. I don't understand that approach. It's not our approach."

-Dan Houser, Rockstar VP

As you can see in the video, Rockstar's latest and most epic GTA installment is looking better than ever. The extra 6 months of polish and shine look like they are really gonna pay off. Ive always had dreams of a game that completely replicates the look and feel of NYC, and lets you walk and drive around doing whatever you want to. Will this be that game? Will it live up to the hype as the Real McCoy, the true next gen game that validates these overpriced, overheating consoles, especially the loss leading PS3, which was the likely cause of the delay? Can it possibly be as amazing as it should be, as we want it to be? GTA Online. The very concept shakes the foundations of what online gaming is as we know it. Its only a few weeks before we find out, but I have a feeling we are all gonna be blown away.